Tesla CEO Elon Musk is teasing important new developments for its Autopilot system to ‘soon’ support traffic lights, stops and roundabouts, which he says will lead to full self-driving capability.
In recent months, Tesla rewrote the neural net for its Autopilot system in order to be able to deploy more advanced driver assist features that the company promised as part of its Autopilot 2.0 program released two years ago.
It led to the release of ‘Navigate on Autopilot’, which suggests lane changes on the highway and takes off-ramps and interchanges.
Tesla presented it as an important step toward enabling autonomous driving on the highway without driver’s input.
The automaker said about the feature:
“While initially the feature will require drivers to confirm lane changes using the turn stalk before the car moves into an adjacent lane, future versions of Navigate on Autopilot will allow customers to waive the confirmation requirement if they choose to. In both of these scenarios, until truly driverless cars are validated and approved by regulators, drivers are responsible for and must remain in control of their car at all times”
Musk praised the feature as “mind-blowing” on Twitter today and teased upcoming updates that will have more capabilities:
Already testing traffic lights, stop signs & roundabouts in development software. Your Tesla will soon be able to go from your garage at home to parking at work with no driver input at all.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2018
The Autopilot system is currently aimed at highway driving since it doesn’t handle stop lights and traffic lights, but Tesla is testing a neural net that recognizes those and is able to take action based on them.
With this added capability, Autopilot would become more competent on city roads – bringing it another step closer to fully autonomous.
Musk, who has been testing a cutting-edge version of Autopilot in his own Model S, said that it could even handle complete self-driving from home to work.
It’s not clear how ‘soon’ he expects that to happen, but he has been saying recently that he thinks ‘self-driving will encompass all modes of driving by the end of next year’.
Tesla’s full self-driving system will require a new neural net computer to go into production in the first half of 2019.
In the shorter term, Musk has been teasing some significant improvements to Tesla Autopilot’ Summon feature. He says that Tesla owners will be able to remotely control their car through their phones ‘like RC cars’ by the end of the year.
In the meantime, Tesla Autopilot remains a level 2 driver assist system and drivers should remain vigilant and be ready to take control at all time.
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